05/09/2002 12:00AM

Derby ratings fall from 2001


NEW YORK - The final Neilsen rating for NBC's Kentucky Derby telecast on Saturday was 7.1, down 12.3 percent from last year, NBC said on Thursday. Each rating point equals approximately 1.1 million households.

Share, a measure of the percentage of televisions in use that are tuned to a broadcast, was 18, down 14.2 percent compared with last year, when share was 21.

Ken Schanzer, the president of NBC Sports, said the rating exceeded the network's expectations "considering this year's Derby had a wide-open field with no superhorse."

NBC's broadcast peaked from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Eastern, when the rating was 9.7 and share was 24. The Derby went off at 6:12 p.m.

The final rating was a sharp drop from the overnight rating of 8.1, which was even with last year's overnight and final rating. Overnight ratings are generated from a survey of the 53 largest markets in the United States. The final rating is generated from a survey of all markets.

NBC has broadcast the Derby for two years. Last year, the 8.1 rating was a 40 percent increase over ABC's broadcast in 2000. ABC had broadcast the Derby for 26 years.